According to the Ontario Living Wage Network, a family of four (two parents with two kids) needs a household income of about $74,000 a year to make basic ends meet in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
That works out to $18.42 an hour for both parents, or $4.42 an hour more than minimum wage.
“The growth of employment here is low paying, minimum wage and doesn’t have benefits,” said Mary Lou Mills, a social determinants nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “That’s very concerning when we look what at what minimum wage is and what people do need to meet their basic standards.”
According to the Ontario Living Wage Network, it calculates the living wage including a family’s needs for food, clothing, shelter, childcare, transportation, medical expenses, recreation and a modest vacation.
It does not include any retirement or education savings, debts or home-ownership.
It does take into account taxes and government transfers.
Officials with Kawartha Lakes Food Source, a warehouse that supplies eight food banks in the municipality, say they’ve noticed an increase in usage.
Between Sept. 21 and Oct. 24, 564 people used a food bank in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
“Individuals need to pay for rent, hydro and if they have a vehicle, they have to pay for insurance and gas,” said Heather Kirby, general manager for Kawartha Lakes Food Source. “Food is always the last piece that is negotiable. They can choose to buy food or not.”
The provincial minimum wage was supposed to increase from $14 an hour to $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019. The provincial government nixed that plan, along with the basic income pilot program in Lindsay.
“We all want a higher minimum wage, but we need to get there in a predictable way,” said Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Labour. “Businesses can have that time to incorporate those increases. We want the minimum wage to be based on economics, not politics.”
Scott said the province would make an announcement regarding the social services structure on Nov. 22. Details of that announcement weren’t disclosed.